It isn’t every day you get an email asking if you want to be involved in a “fast BG”, and when it did come through from Jasmin, my reply was “absolutely, no question…um… when you say fast… how fast exactly”?
The Bob Graham can most easily be described as a Fellrunning challenge in which the runner must traverse 42 Lakeland peaks in 24 hours. About 67 miles of running, with nigh on 8000m of ascent. It is a pretty tough day out, and just by setting out you certainly are not guaranteed to be finishing it with in 24 hours. Or even finishing it at all.
The Ladies record has stood since 2015 when Nicky Spinks went round in 18 hours and 06 mins. A pretty quick time, I think you will agree. Jasmin was being a little coy about her ambitions, or at least thats what we thought. In reality, she really didn’t know quite how fast she was going to go, so she marked out the same schedule as Nicky and would just run and see how she felt. As good a plan as any. We were told it wasn’t a secret, but then, Jasmin wasn’t shouting about it either, and so pretty much everyone kept it on the down-low.
The original weekend slated for the attempt came and went as food poisoning the week before had left her not feeling in such a great place. During that week, the weather was glorious, and we wished we were starting on every day that dawned. Forecasts were anxiously checked, the weather held, the hills dried out a bit, and it all looked good for Saturday.
The weekend came and we travelled up to stay at SteveB’s house. His hospitality really knows no bounds with supporters and runners coming and going at all hours. Jasmin, Konrad and Jasmin’s mum were there when we got there, and others began arriving soon after. A pre-bedtime warm up was provided by Julien who got his van stuck in soft ground which we then had to push out. Alarms were then set for 3am and we headed to bed.
3am came and as we went downstairs, breakfast was already being had. Spyke and Dave Ward were ready alongside Jasmin and Konrad and there was a little nervous banter until we all headed down to Keswick. Once there we also met up with Zoe and Alan, who were waiting at the Moot hall. The minutes slowly ticked down and we stood around…. waiting, until at 4am on the dot, Jasmin, followed by Konrad, Spyke and Wardy started watches and shot off out of the square.
As for us – back to the house for a quick nap, before getting up to glorious sunshine. We figured it would be good to see Jasmin go through at the end of Leg 1, to see how she was doing. After consulting the schedule, we started to drive over to Threlkeld about 20 mins early imagining that would easily be enough time to get there. Halfway down the drive, Konrad came loping into view. “already gone”. Were his words. End of leg 1 and already about 20 mins up on schedule.
Well then. Amazing, but also slightly concerning. We can all go fast at the beginning of a race, its the sustaining it thats the problem. We turned back to the house and had another cup of tea, by which time a ragged Spyke and Wardy had arrived back, professing that they had kept telling her to slow down, to conserve energy, but without a rucksack or bumbag to hold her back she was basically flying. At the top of the Parachute descent they met a guy who knows the route well, and he basically set off like it was a race. Jasmin plummeted down after him leaving the supporters trailing in her wake. At the start of leg 2 only one of the supporters was ready for her and the others had to scramble to catch up, but by the time they came into view on Clough Head, they were all moving together as a fast moving team.
The talk now was if she could hold on to such a time gain for the rest of the round, but also, the co-ordination battle began as phone calls were made to supporters and road crew to make sure they were up and ready to go. If she came into Dunmail early we didn’t want her arriving to an empty road! Soon enough there was a text through from Shane Ohly, one of the leg2 supporters. Already another 5 minutes up on schedule, before she was even on Great Dodd. Support was recalled- but this time with more urgency.
Another car was rescued from the mud, and the leg 3 guys got away to Dunmail, having to go via Patterdale and the Struggle, as the main road down to Grasmere was still being repaired from the floods last year.
Waiting, and then word. Leg 3 is on its way. Jasmin was absolutely flying- not even stopping at Dunmail Raise, just going straight through. Supporters were being used up like matchsticks and by the time food and gear had been transferred to different rucksacks, she was already disappearing up Steel Fell. 45 mins up was the word. No, hang on, do the maths correctly… 55 minutes up. John H and Lindsay from Glossopdale arrived at Dunmail to cheer Jasmin on her way about 30 mins early… of her original schedule, asking where she had got to. Alex pointed up Steel Fell…”you’ve already missed her”.
For support, now was the nailbiting time. Yes, Jasmin is strong, and the support across these next 2 legs are superb, but has she gone off too fast? There is little enough phone signal up on the tops for any information to be sent back, so we would just have to wait, extrapolate on the timings, and get to Honister for approximately the right time for Leg 5.
No word came through for quite a while. We made our way to Honister for about 2:30, ridiculously early, but then, I wanted to have a quick jog to the top of Dale Head to stretch my legs, and to look at he view (one of the best in the Lakes). In the carpark it was pretty breezy, and hail occasionally blew through, we hoped they
were having better weather on top. Other supporters started gathering. Andy O, Jo Z, Jim Mann turned up from Wasdale saying that Jasmin was going strong, hadn’t really stopped going through Wasdale at all and was now well over an hour up on schedule- not quite as fast as at the beginning, but was still hammering along. Rhys F-R also turned up commenting that Jasmin really had the support well trained- he had
scanned social media and there was not a word, not a peep that she was doing this today. We all stood waiting in the cold, drinking tea and complaining that Jasmin should hurry up and stop keeping us waiting.
Before long a group of runners appeared on the horizon and ran right past where Alan from Over Yonder Photography had placed himself. Down the hill they came, and bang, straight through Honister.
We had already got packs on with food in, and were ready to run, all that was necessary was for Alex to transfer Jasmins bag from a Leg 4 bag to his own, and we were gone, off up Dale Head.
By now it was a case of ensuring that Jasmin had food and water and coke and whatever else she needed as she moved. Still smiling, the hills gave way, one by one, and within 57mins of leaving Honister, we were at the top of Robinson and ploughing our way down the valley on Jim Manns “special route”. It was pretty steep in places, and Jasmins legs must have been screaming at her, but still, she powered on down.
We hit the road at about 14 hours and 40 mins, so a sub-15 was out of the question, but with no shoe change, and a bevy of supporters now including Steve B, we hooned along the road. Not much to say here, except that pretty much everyone (except Jo) was saying how much they hated road running.
Through Stair, up the road, past Portinscale, across the bridge, and the final run in. The time was unbelievable, certainly sub15:30, and we were all grins as Jasmin ran into town. Up to the Moot Hall- but hang on a sec… there is a massive crowd there, cheering and waving… Rhys said there was not a peep on social media. Had someone organised this in less than 2 hours? Surely not.
It was a crowd of walkers who were gathered there for a completely separate event, and others in the support team were desperately trying to keep a path open through the crowd to the Hall doors. Lynne was there with the organiser who ensured there was a path through – and was interrupted in the middle of his speech by Jasmin running up the road.
Cheers, hollers, applause, Jasmin powered into the finish, touched the doors and switched off her watch before embracing Konrad who was only steps behind her.
15 hours 24 mins
Nigh on 2 hours up on schedule, and a record by the same amount. Not only that, but the 5th fastest round in history, and only 90 minutes off Billy Blands round. Impressive doesn’t even begin to cover it.
We retired to the pub for beer and banter, and to reminisce on what was already a legendary day, and one which will stay in our mind for a very, very long time. Zoe broke the news on Twitter, which immediately sent the fellrunning world into meltdown, and we all had a well deserved beer.
We were so proud and honoured to have been a small part of Jasmins team. It all came together spectacularly.
Well Done Jasmin.